Why You Might Want to Hold Your Breath When Passing a Smoker.

June 09, 2016 PowerTea Management

half man half skeleton smoking
Even if you are all for a healthy lifestyle (which is probably why you're reading our articles in the first place), we often run into others smoking, and that means unavoidable secondhand smoke. But if you’re near a cloud of secondhand smoke, the smoke given off from cigarettes, and the exhalations of cigarette smokers; how does it affect you and your health? PowerTea is STRONGLY against smoking and heres why:
old man in blue shirt holding left hand to his heart


It turns out that there are both long- and short-term negative effects of breathing in secondhand cigarette smoke. In the short term, studies have found that when exposed to secondhand smoke, our blood vessels can become damaged, and our blood and heart can be affected in a way that increases the risk of a heart attack. Secondhand smoke breathers can also feel dizzy, and many report respiratory problems after being around cigarette smoke.  
Xray on lungs


Those exposed to secondhand smoke also are exposed to many of the same harsh and harmful chemicals that smokers inhale. One very harrowing study found that even short amounts of time exposed to secondhand smoke can harm lung cells in a way that can increase your risk of developing cancer. Of course, this means inhaling secondhand smoke repeatedly over a long period of time means your risk goes up further.  Long-term exposure can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer due to these chemicals repeatedly entering your respiratory system. 
Smoke causing death


While the risk of these diseases is not as high as if one were smoking directly, secondhand smoke has still been estimated to have caused millions of deaths due to cancer (especially if you are living with a smoker), heart disease and stroke. Those exposed to secondhand smoke in the long-term were found to have a 25-30% increased chance of developing heart disease, and the risk of stroke was similarly increased. 
Grandfather in green shirt holding up baby in white bodysuit

Effect on Young and Old

There are some populations that are more at risk of being negatively affected by secondhand smoke. Children and infants are particularly at risk for the terrible effects of secondhand smoke, and exposure to cigarette smoke can lead to an increase in problems like asthma, ear infection, and respiratory problems. Similarly, elderly people, those with existing respiratory problems, and those at risk of heart attack and stroke are very vulnerable to cigarette smoke and should absolutely avoid it. 
PVC pipe being glued back together

Thinking of Quitting?

The good news, however, is that the body can start to recover after being exposed to secondhand smoke—especially if you successfully stay out of the cloud of secondhand smoke over the long term. Once your lungs are no longer taking in the harmful chemicals of secondhand smoke, your body can begin to flush out the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, like carbon monoxide, from the blood. Breathing also becomes easier once exposure is over, and risks of asthma, stroke, and heart attack will drop significantly when the exposure to secondhand smoke ends. This will not fully repair the damage caused already however; you can't get away from firsthand smoking unscathed. Once those alveoli (think air sacs in your lungs) get destroyed there is no coming back from it.
YMCA no smoking sign


To minimise exposure to smoke, avoid remaining near a person while they are smoking and if you are passing an area full of smokers; just take in a breath of fresh air before you get there and let it out a good 5-10 metres after you pass. If you yourself are a smoker, you have all of the mentioned risks (and more) to consider, but also remember to prevent exposing others to your cigarette smoke. Avoid smoking indoors or in cars, and especially remember to keep secondhand smoke away from children: there’s no reason there should be another victim of secondhand smoke.


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